No lies, no deception, just honesty!
As part of Autism Awareness Week, we are focusing on some of the communication tools we use at Certitude. Communication – understanding what’s happening around you and in turn being understood – can sometimes be difficult for people with autism. As part of Autism Awareness Week we spoke to Matt, a Deputy Manager, who explains how ‘social stories’ have helped.
There were a few communication barriers for us, when we first began supporting Alan*. We first started using ‘social stories’ to explain an operation he needed so he could provide his consent. With the help of Anthony, Jess and Melanie, we created stories to explain why the operation was important and to show different scenarios with various outcomes so there would be no shocks or surprises.
After seeing how successful this was, we started to use social stories every day so Alan could understand and therefore be in more control of what would be happening. It’s important for him to see or imagine himself in a situation and social stories are a great way of doing this. As Alan loves the Thomas the Tank Engine book series, we created stories to look similar to this, both with colours, pictures and layout.
We also started using Interactive social stories using pictures to communicate with Alan to understand how he feels about what is being asked and to make the choices about what he wants to do, where he wants to go, what he wants to eat and many other things… Alan is a huge gamer so we structured the social stories into a game format. He is also the ‘Colombo’ of the house so we have incorporated this element into the game – he loves investigating!
Social stories are a great way to develop better understanding and most of all stay safe. Alan does not like change and likes to keep to his routine, so social stories help him through the potential distress of unexpected events that could take place. They are also a great way of providing positive feedback, achievements and boosting self-esteem. Recently, Alan had broken his Playstation and we used a social story to plan buying a new one. Alan overcame many challenges on the day, we went to one of the main high streets near us. Although it was difficult for him, we managed to turn it into a positive and accomplished many things on the day. Using social stories before and after to provide positive feedback really helped.
A supportive team, great team spirit and good management always helps, but the greatest support of all has been Alan’s family – they know what works well and what doesn’t and have been there every step of the way.
Rather than asking people to change their perspective and try to get them to live in ‘our world’, it’s far better to try to live in theirs and see the world through their eyes. It’s more than worth it – no lies, no deception, just honesty!
*name has been changed to protect identity